Her music has been described by Tom Waits - for whom she worked as a nanny - as 'like swimming in a lake at night'. Now Manchester based, having relocated from LA on the suggestion of Elbow's Guy Garvey, she released her second album, Hunting My Dress, last year.

What's a typical day like?

I do my best to sit down with an instrument for a couple of hours each day to keep myself in love with music. If I've hit a stride with a song then I'll work on it for as long as I'm compelled to. I am disciplined but I'm not a 9 to 5er; I'd work a 9 to 5 job if that's what I wanted to do. I just built a room for writing in and it really helps. It's in a lorry container in the back garden. We've just put a floor down and a skin on the inside of it to insulate it.

What are the tools of your trade?

The starting point for me is just openness, a willingness to just sit down and focus and enter that world for a while. You have to leave your adult life and you have to have the time and space to do that. Whether you're walking or riding on a bus, you just have to be willing to abandon reality and enter the creative realm.

What inspires you?

I find that my creative cycles are a little bit unpredictable. I think I am largely affected by my atmosphere. I tend to write music that I'm more closely connected to when there's some disturbance in my life, when there's conflict.

How has moving to Manchester changed your music?

Moving to Manchester is the largest of the many relocations in my life, so I think it's almost like a black out, like living in a vacuum to some degree. I think your creative base is what you carry, walking around with you day-to-day. When I finished the last record I actually said to myself, 'I'd like to forget how to do what I do.' Now I'm working really hard to remember.

What's keeping you busy?

Right now I have a song that I have a full melody to and guitar part but no lyric, which is completely unusual for me, because usually the lyric and the melody come at the same time. So now I'm just kind of humming and trying to come up with those first words. The more that I write, the more critical I become of what I say. I don't write anything down, I just keep the words in my head until the song is written. I commit it to memory by the sheer fact that it takes me so long to get to the next part.

Jesca Hoop is touring the UK throughout May. Details at www.myspace.com/jescahoop